Terms such as artificial intelligence and digitalization have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Robots and algorithms are conquering our world. In medical technology, they are recognized as a way to make diagnoses and treatments more efficient. In the future, for example, programs will be able to process a patient’s symptoms or recognize pathological patterns on scans. Today, robotic-assisted surgery is already used in the operating room.
During robotic surgery, the surgeon does not move the instruments directly, but uses a remote manipulator to perform the normal movements associated with surgery. This allows minimally invasive surgeries that injure less tissue and heal faster. One day, remote surgeries might even be performed by a specialist who is not in the same hospital as the patient. Imagine the opportunities in global healthcare that arise!
Giving the robot eyes
Achieving high quality visualization is a particular challenge for robotic surgery. Using a small camera or image guide, the surgeons can see what they are doing on a screen. To obtain this view, light must be brought into the body. But not just any light: this situation calls for very white and homogenous light. This is why high quality optical fibers are great to bring bright light from a light source to the site of operation within the body, offering the surgeon a very natural color.
These optical fibers must fulfill numerous properties: SCHOTT’s glass fibers can be made thinner than a human hair and can withstand temperatures of up to 350° Celsius during sterilization. Attached to a moving robot arm, they must be very flexible. These fibers also have to bridge the distance from a remote light source via the robotic arms to the patient, which can be around to 20 feet (about 7 meters).
Even though the possibilities of robotic surgery sound like science fiction to many of us, progress and technology will never stop, as robots promise great potential for surgeons, patients and the healthcare systems world-wide.
We are sure: there is more to come!